Flights landing at Charlotte’s airport were backed up for an average of 22 minutes on Monday afternoon, the second day of furloughs for the Federal Aviation Administration’s air traffic controllers.
The first weekday that included furloughs had been running smoothly for most of Monday with no significant delays. That changed around 4 p.m., when the airport implemented a traffic management program for incoming flights. The furloughs began Sunday.
Around 8 a.m. Monday, the FAA was reporting departure delays of 15 to 30 minutes in Charlotte, but schedules are generally back to normal by mid-morning. Some delays are typical during the busy hours of work days, especially Mondays.
No significant delays were reported throughout the day at Raleigh Durham International Airport.
The biggest problem of the day was at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport. The FAA was reporting departure delays of nearly two hours, due to rain, wind and other ground delays. Arrivals were running 30 to 45 minutes late.
But schedules appeared to be normal at the country’s other busy airports, including in Chicago, Boston, Atlanta and Washington.
Last week, Michael Huerta, the head of the FAA, warned the public to expect flight delays as furloughs began on Sunday. The effects, Huerta said, would be felt unevenly across the country because each airport’s operations are unique.
FAA officials said they imposed the furloughs because they could find no way to cut $637 million from the agency’s budget as required by automatic, across-the-board spending cuts approved by Congress, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Huerta have said.
The FAA has 47,000 employees, including nearly 15,000 controllers.
Employees are scheduled for one furlough day every other week between now and Sept. 30, according to the Associated Press. That will reduce the number of controllers on duty nationwide at any time by 10 percent.
Controllers at Charlotte Douglas International Airport have said the furloughs mean there will be four fewer controllers on each shift in Charlotte.
Currently, 21 controllers staff a full shift.
Huerta said it will be necessary to slow down operations in order to maintain safety, which will create traffic delays.
A spokeswoman for Airlines for America, a trade association for the airline industry, has said the furloughs are unnecessary, and airlines are considering suing the government.
The Associated Press contributed.
Wootson: 704-358-5046; Twitter: @CleveWootson
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